Monday, April 11, 2005

Dogs and Cats, Living Together

Game 7 - Mets

Mets 8, Astros 4
Record: 2-5

As you know, Misery Loves Company is nothing if not thematic. You fondly recall "F-word Day" from last year, as well as "AWOL Week," "Typo Time," and "Drunken Post Night" at various intervals. Well, for one day only, it's "Compliment the Yankees Day" at MLC, a short-lived and probably soon-to-be-rescinded event where we speak of the Evil Empire and its hordes of minions without using terms usually reserved for human rights violators. Don't get too used to it.

Fed up with trying to follow the Mets on this new-fangled "Internet" thingy (someone explain to the scheduler of Mets games that since 1935 you can play at night), I stepped across the street from my office in hopes of watching some of the game. Naturally, I was denied. I did, however, get to see most of the Yankees/Red Sox contest described below. Not mentioned in Rob's notes was another bad error by A-Rod to extend an inning, plus a subsequent flub by Sheffield to put it nearly out of reach. A highly enjoyable second choice to watching the Mets win.

While seeing the Sox take down the Bombers, I caught ticker updates of the Mets/Astros, which we've noted before is easily the most agonizing method of "following" a baseball game. Especially this one -- the seesaw scoring had me both anxious about the outcome and annoyed that I was missing a good game. Assuaging my anxiety were seven things: six Guinnesses and Pat, the gentleman I met at the bar who represents the continuation of our theme here today. He's a die-hard Yankee fan, but somewhere during his initiation he missed the seminar on being an unmitigated douchebag. Knowledgeable and objective about baseball well beyond the Bronx, his existence really made no sense to me. Between his tales of woe from the Donnie Baseball Era, calling out Mo Rivera as an overly lionized, underperforming stiff of late, and blasting Michael Kay as the airhorn earwig of the airwaves that he is, it was almost unnerving how he dispelled my increasingly solidified belief in Yankee fans -- at least the ones outside my circle of friends -- as cretins worthy only of hollering trite vulgarities within earshot of impressionable youths. (Clearly I went to too many O's/Yankees games at Camden Yards once upon a time.) It was almost like he was human.

Pat and I enjoyed watching the game (he watched, I enjoyed) while tossing around such topics as Pete Rose, Bud Selig, Peter Angelos (three men not allowed in my kitchen), big-market payrolls, and steroids. Among the conclusions we came to were the fact that Charlie Hustle will get into the Hall of Fame about the same time he has a good hair day, that the mid-90's Yankee free agents with stats, salaries, and personalities of solid but unexciting quality will always be better than this batch of signings that break the bank but can't mesh as a unit, and that Bud Selig's legacy is somewhere between that of Richard Nixon and George Custer. (Pat's quote that Selig "could fuck up a wet dream" is letter-perfect.) All in all, a highly enjoyable afternoon watching the Yankees look like the Mets.

Among the highlights that trickled into view were a two-out bunt single by Kaz Matsui to plate a run, the same oft-maligned Matsui singling home the go-ahead run two innings later, and Cliff Floyd extending the lead with a two-run single off former Shea hero John Franco. In between all of that was a run-scoring error when two Astros collided, supposedly unable to hear because of the sellout crowd. Franco himself complained of hearing issues himself, as his ears were apparently ringing from two guys in a DC bar using a diverse array of words such as "Franco," "sucks," "Franco," "sucks," "Franco," "really," and "sucks." (Okay, not all of our discussion was enlightened, highbrow stuff.)

2-5 now. Somehow, it just feels like things are getting back on track. Theoretically, baseball should not lend itself to momentum, streaks, and emotion-driven play, but it does. It's a complex, deliberate game that keys on so many seemingly minor individual accomplishments, but it really does rely on the concept of team play more than the casual observer might realize. Right now, today, the Mets seem to be playing as if the five-game bed-wetting and the heaps of premature (not unwarranted, just premature) abuse they collectively took represent some sort of rite of passage, some initiation ceremony that united them in the name of the cause. And just as it seems implausible that such a notion could apply to baseball, the thinking man's game, it's just as silly to think that spoiled millionaires might be capable of investing this kind of battleground emotion usually reserved for life-or-death experiences in foxholes. From what I've seen in the last 36 hours, though, these guys are a hell of a lot closer to that kind of commitment and energy than I'd figured possible just a few days ago.

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